Veteran’s Day thoughts

I went to my daughter’s Veterans Day school assembly on Friday. The theme was, “What do you think about when you hear the word ‘veteran’?” The students’ written responses to this question were read aloud and some appropriate songs were sung for the occasion. I took some time to ask myself the question and to break it down a little bit. Who are veterans and what do they do? How can we honor them? I know a few veterans but I don’t suppose this gives me any real insight into who they are, what they do, and why they do it. They’re people, of course, and they don’t easily fit into any other category. There must be many reasons someone goes to war. I imagine people who volunteer because they feel moved by duty,  honor, and compassion for their own. I imagine people who enlist to escape and because they feel that their other options are limited. I imagine people who combat oppression. I imagine people who find themselves both the victim and the tool of a system that cares neither for them nor the people they are expected to fight amongst. Whatever their reasons, veterans deserve our respect and gratitude, and so much more. They deserve the assurance that we appreciate the good they have done, and no less an assurance that we have learned from our mistakes. I hear a lot of the former on every Veteran’s day, but never a word of the latter. Well, I hope we can do better. I propose that once a year we have another national day of finding appropriate ways to remember the people who put our veterans in harm’s way for their personal gain, all while waving the flag of the country and invoking the name of the deity in whose honor many of these men and women were preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

America. We must love our veterans because we create so many of them.

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